This is how you take a large freshman class and cultivate it over the course of a season.
You play the best defenders. When one doesn't defend, he doesn't play, simple as that. You show trust, and you get a lot of players on the floor.
Utah now has a team not many want to face in the postseason. The Utes may have a very difficult road down the stretch - at home against Colorado, at Cal and Stanford. And they still have an uphill climb for the NCAA Tournament.
But what they have now is a team that is equipped to make a run through the NIT at worst. Utah goes 10 deep now, and that depth was on serious display in Sunday's win over Arizona State at the Huntsman Center. Guys are playing with confidence, guys are making shots, defending and getting out on the break.
Ute fans can take solace in one thing: if their team doesn't make the Big Dance? They LOOK like a Big Dance team, and the same can't be said for every team that will qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
The emergence of Princeton Onwas and Ahmad Fields has given this team a flexibility that hasn't been there. Renan Lenz basically returning from the dead to score 14 points in 13 minutes served as a big help to Jordan Loveridge. It's no coincidence that Utah's sophomore forward scored 13 of his 18 points against the Sun Devils in the second half.
Kenneth Ogbe and Dakarai Tucker serve as shooters off the bench. Jeremy Olsen, Dallin Bachynski provide girth and fouls in the middle. In short, this is a team that has a bunch of flexibility and a lot more depth than many of the teams in the Pac-12.
Of course, there are no guarantees. But from the eyes of this blog, the Utes are morphing into a dangerous bunch.
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